Employee spotlight: Siniša Simić
“Architecture is a craft with no right answer, no quantifiable end goal, thereby we are afforded a lifetime of exploration — this is the main attractor for me.”
An architect at HAA, Siniša Simić is a Canadian citizen who commutes to HAA’s downtown Detroit office each day from Windsor. He was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina and raised in Serbia, and his interest in architecture thrives on the idea that architects are continuously learning and rethinking “solutions” that came before.
“One never gets to feel the creep of stagnation setting in, unless one gives up,” he said.
After graduating from the University of Detroit-Mercy, Siniša lived in Toronto for seven years before his career path led him back to the Windsor-Detroit region, with Carl Bolofer bringing him to HAA. Last month, he celebrated his three-year anniversary at the firm.
“I’ve long believed that one cannot walk through life with eyes closed. There are lessons, calls and echoes, symbols and writing on the wall all around us every day – one just has to find a way to see and hear through the noise,” Siniša said. “ It was those seven years [in Toronto] that were necessary to identify that, ironically, the region I left behind is the one that provides the most fertile milieu for me and what I want to accomplish.”
He’s currently working on a number of small projects, but he’s been doing a lot of work on the Gordie Howe Bridge. HAA was hired as the consultant to the Government of Canada to assist with evaluation of the competing proposals. Along with Angie Hicks and Betsy Williams, he is in charge of the U.S. Custom’s plaza architecture and landscape architecture, with a slightly larger team in charge of the exemplar design for the plaza landscape and buildings.
“My favorite project is always one that gets built,” Siniša said. “That said, here at HAA my favorite thing has been the 250 Monroe office renovation. It became real, which is the most exciting thing for an architect.”
The inspiration behind his work is fueled by the opportunity to apply these lessons learned to his next project. Siniša says that getting to walk inside your own mind is magical, and this space arguably is reserved for architects and designers.
“We get to walk into a built space, which we have imagined, walked through, touched and experienced in our mind for a while prior,” he said. ”The built thing is never quite as good, but one learns one or two things from the experience.”
As for his creative process, he has yet to completely define it, but it does follow a couple rules.
“Those are to not rely on architectural precedents, to define the questions to ask of your design, ask those questions at every stage, and once I think I’m there, strip it down to reveal its essence,” he said. “Always resist the temptation to put robes back on the thing; let it be naked and vulnerable and see how does it hold up the day, week, month after.”
As a professional in a creative field, Siniša is aware of the struggle to have creativity on demand. Creativity is not always organic and spontaneous, but he keeps his creative spark alive by doing tasks not related to architecture.
“… putting myself in unfamiliar places, facing unfamiliar tasks is how I tend to keep my creativity active,” he said. “I tend to not throw out things that break or fail, instead I take them apart to see how they were designed to work in the first place. This type of exercise allows me to make connections about things that I’ve never thought about previously.
On whether his career in architecture has been what he’s expected it to be, his answer was simple:
“Not yet, but I’m working on it.”
Favorite Detroit lunch spot?
“Taqueria El Ray”
Favorite travel destination?
“Africa. Maybe because it’s the freshest in memory, or maybe it’s because I’ve had the privilege of growing there in ways that I couldn’t have expected. South Africa, where we went, is a sort of “Intro to Africa,” thus a good way to peak one’s curiosity. Africa, the continent, is a world onto itself and one that is a must for anyone with interest in architecture, urban planning, history or sociology to visit.”
“Many. I have a bad habit of collection hobbies, yet curiously none of them are collecting hobbies. Building bicycles, fixing and restoring a motorcycle, restoring an old Jaguar, masonry, gardening (rose gardening, to be exact), leather work, wood work.Hobbies are a funny concept. I don’t think I quite understand it.”
“My partner and I are expecting our first born. It’s an exciting time in our lives!”